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Thoughts on Hydraulic Fracking

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This graphic offers a description of the Hydraulic Fracking process.

As I write this, I just learned that the Supreme Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia has denied to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe the right to halt the North Dakota Access Pipeline. The tribe and their supporters are continuing to protest this decision because of their cultural respect for the land and the many harmful ecological effects of fracking.

In many ways, fracking is the environmental issue of our time. It’s an issue that touches on every aspect of our lives – the water we drink, the air we breathe, the health of our communities – and it is also impacting the global climate on which we all depend. It pits the largest corporate interests – big oil and gas companies and the political leaders who support them – against people and the environment in a long-term struggle for survival. It is an issue that has captivated the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of people across the United States and across the globe. (Note: This information came courtesy of www.foodandwaterwatch.org).

Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as “fracking,” is a technique to extract natural gas from harder to access unconventional sources trapped in rock formations such as shale gas, coal bed methane and tight gas. (Note: This information came courtesy of Fracking and Climate Change).

Reading scientific reports and reports of persons living in the area of fracking sites and waste disposal, I note the following:

  • Air pollution from methane gas and the heavy truck traffic increasing asthma attacks, especially in children,
  • Water contamination,
  • Unrecoverable water,
  • Some chemicals used not known to the public because of “trade secrets,”
  • Increase of earthquakes,
  • Contributing to climate change,
  • Land grabbing without the owner’s consent, and
  • Royalties promised to land owners compromised by some companies charging for processing and transportation.

The Earth Justice link shows a map of the United States, where you can see fraccidents (fracking accidents) that have happened in your state. It also offers an opportunity to take action.

In doing this research, I contacted the Sisters of Humility of Mary at Villa Maria, Pa., who have direct experience of fracking in their area and even the potential threat of fracking on their land without their permission. Like our Congregation, they also have a Land Ethic document.

Sister Barbara O’Donnell, who took the Earth Literacy program here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, has been my source for the information related to their experience and knowledge gained about this issue. One sign of hope she shared with me is that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently banned taking land for hydraulic fracking without the owner’s consent.

On our new Climate Change web page are two documents. One is a letter to the editor by Sister Mary Cunningham, HM, and the second are the reasons their Congregation has refused to allow fracking on their land.

There are additional informational links on the Climate Change web page.

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Sister Donna Butler

Sister Donna Butler has been a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for more than 60 years. Sister Donna has served in elementary education, parish ministry, diocesan social justice, as well as the Congregation’s liturgy office, archives department and social justice outreach. She also administered as the director of the Providence Volunteer Ministry. Sister Donna currently volunteers in outreach with Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College students.

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3 Comments

  1. Marsha Speth on October 17, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Thank you, Donna, for this blog reminding us of the dangers of fracking!

  2. Paula Modaff, S.P. on October 17, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks for the references, Donna, so we can access information.

  3. Rita Clare Gerardot on October 18, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Donna, thanks for this very informative article on fracking. The dangers from this are multiple, and I wasn’t aware of many of them.

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